GRANGER at Halloween for 10/26/16: THE TEAR IN THE WRAPPER

Truth in advertising“, it read.

Image result for coffee and Autumn

Granger was fed up with the glut of political flyers in his mailbox and inboxes.  Tossing on his desk the garishly colored hit piece in yoga pants by a former state senator, he swung around and gazed unfocused out the window at a grayish, cotton-streaked sky with bruise-blue accents.  Chuffing through his nose, he thought, “Even the sky’s puzzled by it all.”

Bemused, he reached for his “Coffee Made Me Do It” mug.  Just before he got it to his mouth, he noticed the “fun-size” Butterfinger laying on his desk; it had been hidden by the big black mug.  Glancing over at the glass bowl full of assorted Halloween-sized candy, he saw many other bars identical to the one huddled behind his coffee.  You won’t get away from me-e-e . . .

Image result for fun-size Butterfinger

Amused at the desire-borne moisture in his mouth, he glommed onto the familiar yellow-orange-gold wrapper.  Granger actually licked his lips as he tore the wrapper lengthwise.

Opening the wrapper, he grimaced in disgust.  Really?  Instead of the neat, compact one-by-two-inch chocolate-covered nougat he expected to find, a sharded mess of odd-shaped pieces had fallen onto his black crew-neck tee and khaki pants.

Irritated, he started to grouse about something more to clean up when he suddenly got quiet.

I know people like that, he reasoned.  Brightly packaged, looking like others in The Bowl, like they’ve got it all together–until the wrapper comes off.  Unwrapped, they’re a ragged, jagged collection of misshapen pieces just waiting to fall all over the place.

Yeah, I know people like that.  I’ve been like that.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks

As these thoughts jostled each other in his mind, he glanced again at the phrase off the discarded voting flyer:  “Truth In Advertising”.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks gif

Granger’s eyes blurred and his voice thickened as he spoke aloud, a habit of those who spend most of their time alone.  “Oh, yeah.  Many’s the time that, had my wrapper torn, all my hidden insecurities, my personal misgivings, self-doubt, all those questions about myself would be laying all over in a huge, untidy mess just like–here he made a rueful face as he surveyed the slightly-sticky, sweet mess he’d dumped on his clothes– “my ill-fated little candy bar buddy, may it rest in pieces.”

Image result for Community Golden Caramel coffee

Later, wearing a comfortable black-and-red shirt with the sleeves rolled half up and a soft pair of old jeans, he stood with mug in left hand and coffee carafe in right, thinking about the recent experience.  Shaking his head as if to wake up, Granger poured a fresh, fragrant cup of Community Golden Caramel, returned to his desk chair and sat pondering.

Is it wrong to present a public appearance that’s attractive, appropriate to one’s task?  Does that not reflect good self-image and -respect?

Is it deceptive to present an outward persona that’s positive and uplifting, even when one’s interior landscape more resembles a barren wasteland?  As a Christ-follower, isn’t being winsome and attractive kind of necessary?

Sipping thoughtfully at the semi-sweet, smooth coffee, he answered his own question.

Deception is willful.  Wearing a mask is intended to hide, to frustrate and conceal.  If those are the reasons for the wrapper, then the advertising is dishonest and disingenuous.

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

If one’s desire is to be a consistent positive, encouraging and Christlike witness to one’s own world, then God can be trusted to know how to tenderly deal with the internal brokenness.  To fit the nonfitting.  To create beauty and symmetry just as perfectly as He did at The Original Event.

Rising to refill his mug, Granger thoughtfully nabbed another of the sweet, chocolaty morsels from the Halloween bowl.  Grinning as he softly checked that this one was whole, he admitted to himself, I don’t have this here “for the kids” since none ever come up here.  I have this here for me.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Butterfinger?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2016

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 8/11/18: THE THROWAWAY PEOPLE

The old woman in Room 9 of the geriatric ward of the small rural hospital had finally done the staff a favor and died.  When it was clear she’d never leave that room alive, her daughter and son-in-law drove in from out of town and quickly, dispassionately sifted through her accumulated junk.  It was what was left of 90+ years of life.  Those trinkets and broken this-or-that meant something to her.  Its only value to them was how much could be recycled, so they wouldn’t have to pay so much to throw it all away.

Each time she’d ask them what of hers they wanted, they’d gently tried to remind her:  “Mom, we’re not sure how to tell you this, but all this stuff that has such meaning to you?  We won’t want it, and I can guarantee Jewell won’t.  Keeping parents’ stuff was a ‘thing’ when you were young.  It’s not now.  We’re not wanting to hurt your feelings, but we really don’t want this stuff.”

On the day they got the call her mom was terminally ill, Heather and Drake never blinked.  They drove straight to the lawyer’s office whom they’d retained to handle Eunice’s final affairs, signed the papers committing her to what passed for a nursing home, picked out a few things they thought might make the ugly, plain little room’s walls a little more palatable, and took them over to the hospital.

A grandson’s high school letter off his varsity jacket . . .  the birth announcement of Shelby, the old woman’s first great-granddaughter . . .  a ratty, fray-edged and obviously handsewn pillow she’d made, half from Stan’s favorite old work shirt, and half from the dress she wore when they were married . . .  the crudely-framed picture of the house Stan built in the evenings after work, which became their first home . . .  an old, wooden-handled three-tined table fork that was from the set she’d collected in boxes of laundry soap.  Stan gave her the house as a wedding gift; she gave him a full set of flatware and plates she’d collected and saved.

Eunice.  Her name was Eunice, and Heather was her daughter and had held power of attorney for her ever since her mind began its slow, inexorable tornado-like spiral down in to complete memory loss and total confusion.  She and Grant really didn’t want to be bothered with any of it, but they were closest.  Besides, though older, Jewell would do nothing but complain.  The lawyer’s name was Evans, and the young, preoccupied doctor who briskly came in, checked her vitals for the required amount of time, then pronounced her at 0438 was Shaunessey, Joe, O.D.

The hospital staff, especially housekeeping, didn’t care.  They just knew her as The Crabby Old Lady.  They needed to get in there, clean out her meager belongings and box ’em up for Heather and Grant – as if they wanted any of them – and prep it for the next crabby old man or woman.

They’d taken everything off the wall and picked up everything else, when one thought to look in the bed stand drawer.  There was an old Bible there, with what looked like a bookmark in it.

“Will you hurry up?  Lunch here would gag a yak at the best of times, but maybe if we get to the front of the line—”

The orderly standing and holding the Bible had just opened it, curious to see what The Crabby Old Lady had marked.  Slowly, he sat down.  It wasn’t a bookmark; it was a folded sheet of legal-sized paper.  The old woman had written on it, and her thoughts were profound enough that the staff typed it up, printed it off, and distributed copies to every nurse, RNA, and orderly in the hospital.  Here is what Eunice had written.

 

Crabby Old Woman

 

What do you see, nurses?   What do you see?

What are you thinking, When you’re looking at me?

 

A crabby old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of her routine, with faraway eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,

When you say in a loud voice, “Well, you could at least try!”

 

Who seems not to notice the things that you do,

And forever is losing a sock or a shoe

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,

With just bathing and feeding her long day to fill?

 

Is that what you’re thinking?  Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse, because you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

As I mutely do your bidding and I eat at your will.

 

I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,

And brothers and sisters who laugh and love one another.

 

I’m a young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,

Dreaming that any time now, a lover she’ll meet.

 

A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows that I’ll promise to keep.

 

I’m twenty-five now, I have young of my own,

Who need me to guide them and make them a happy home.

 

I’m now a woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,

Bound to each other with ties I pray will last.

 

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,

But my man’s beside me, to hold me when I mourn.

 

I’m fifty, and once more babies play around my knee,

Again we know the giggles of children, my loved one and me.

 

Dark days are upon me now, for my husband is dead,

I look at the future, and I shudder with dread.

 

For my young are all rearing young of their own,

And I’m left to think of the years and loves that I’ve known.

 

I’m now an old woman, and nature is cruel,

To make me in old age look like a fool.

 

The body, it crumbles, and grace and vigor depart,

It feels like there’s now a stone, where I once had a heart.

 

But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,

And now and again, my battered heart swells.

 

I remember the joys, and I remember the pain,

And inside here, I’m loving and reliving life all over again.

 

I’m thinking of the years, all too few, gone too fast,

And accepting the stark reality that nothing can last.

 

So open your eyes, people–please, open and see:

Not just a forgetful, crabby old woman; look closer – see ME!!

 

No one from the hospital staff were asked if they’d read the poem.  There were no dry eyes.  Even the self-important, preoccupied young doctor was sniffing and blowing his nose.

Normally a perfunctory, even distasteful task, the orderlies didn’t say much as they gathered up the old fitted sheet from Eunice’s last bed, loaded all the stuff to be thrown away in it, and made the trip out to the dumpster.  Where they usually just tossed the whole load in, throwing their sterile gloves in after it, this time they kind of laid it softly on top of the pile.

On top was a faded, embroidered purple letter ‘G’; a folded card of some kind; a kind of weird, mismatched, faded old pillow; an old metal-and-wood table fork with garden string tied through a hole in the handle; and on top of it all, an old, black-and-white picture of a small, homely old house that the frame had come off of while they were tossing it into the throwaway pile.

Leon and Rocco looked at the small pile that represented Eunice’s Earthly life for a minute, then made eye contact.  Leon said, “Hey, what about her Bible?”

     “I kept that.  I didn’t figure she’d mind, and those two kids of hers sure never acted like they’d want it.  ‘Sides, a few years back after I got out of the Corps, I threw mine into the nearest river.  I kinda figure this is God’s way of replacin’ it, and my way of sayin’, “I’m sorry” to Miss Eunice for not bein’ more pleasant when it woulda mattered.”

Leon was quiet for a few seconds as he held the hospital hallway door open.  “We see this stuff all the time, Rock.  What was different here?”

Rocco shrugged.  “I never knew my mom.  Don’t know who my gramma was.”  He shifted his head towards the dumpster.  “Miss Eunice’ll do.  Hey–d’you think she’d mind if I sorta rescued the picture o’ that old house?  She’s family, now, and it’s got some meaning attached to it.  She’d want me to have it, me bein’ her grandson an’ all.”

Leon smiled.  “I’ll go on in and start washin’ down the room.  Gotta have it nice and clean for our next grams or gramps.  But I don’t plan on doin’ it all by myself, hear?”

As the door closed, Rocco turned and the morning sun glistened off the big tears flowing down his cheeks, the first time he’d cried since rotating back from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Groping in his scrubs pocket for his handkerchief, he muttered to himself, “Maybe I’ll just hang onto that old pillow, too.  There’s got to be a story, and–”  here he glanced up into the clear sundrenched sky– “Miss Eunice, if you wouldn’t mind, sometime let me know what that story is.  We’re family, now, and I’d like ta know.”

© D. Dean Boone, August 2018

 

 

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

2nd Cup of Coffee, 7/30/18 – THE NOON-HOUR STYLE SHOW

It was lunch hour, and the four friends gathered as usual outside the Arlington Ave. exit, getting their favorite table where they could capture the breeze.  As they sat down, they automatically bowed their heads in a silent appreciation for jobs, food, and God’s grace.

The minute they began unwrapping their sandwiches, Fred leaned in, even though there were several empty tables between them and any others sitting out in the summer light.

“Guys, I—” He sighed, obviously troubled over something.  “I need you to agree with me in prayer over a major decision I need to make in the next couple of weeks.  I don’t feel I can say any more than that now.  But I really need you to pray with me.”

Glenn was almost comical because he was trying earnestly to talk past the half-mouthful of French dip he hadn’t yet swallowed.  “Muhwef thuih ri’ now.”  Dorrell didn’t say anything, but he nodded, reaching a big hand across the table to take Fred’s.  Washing the remnants of the tasty food down with some Diet Dr. Pepper, Glenn cleared his throat, reached across to put his hand over the other two, and said, “Absolutely.  Let’s pray while it’s fresh.”  Amari sat quietly, eyes focused on his friend, a muted tilaka on his forehead showing his Buddhist background prior to accepting Christ as his Savior.

All four men bowed their heads, as Dorrell’s rich baritone rumble began, “Father God, You’re the maker and sustainer of all things, Father God.  And right now, we just want to praise and just, well, just honor You, Father God, because You’re the Waymaker, the Chainbreaker, Fath—-”

Fred was saying little, he was so broken and emotional, nodding in silent agreement.

Glenn had been silent for about 10 seconds, then said, “God, Thy Spirit is all over this need of Fred’s, and Thou knowest all about it.  In fact, You, O Heavenly Father, knew ALL about this burden Brother Fred carries today long before he did.  Right now, we pray Thy matchless POWER over our dear brother, and Holy Spirit, we CLAIM Thy TOTAL VICTORY over this entire matter!  I call it DONE-uh in JEEE-sus name!   . . . KOO-nee-ai, SHUN-didee-ai; SHUN-duhlo-kobrrria-ma-RINdalosEEE-uh—–”

Amari sat in a studied, focused silence, dusky-hued hands together and touching his lips, rocking slightly as he envisioned his prayers rising like fragrant incense.

In Heaven, Gabe got up from his sprinter’s start position and turned in confusion.  “Hey, Boss?  They’re doing that—that THING again.  Uh . . .”  His impossibly-buffed forearm flexed as he kind of flopped his hand.

A lot of things amuse God, but none more than the praying styles of His kids – and the interesting conversations in Celestial Central.  He turned, and Gabe could see He could barely keep His composure.  The impossibly-imposing angel patiently waited, having a real hard time keeping the grin off his own face.  How do you watch God laugh and NOT join in?

“Really?  Seriously, Lord, this is a big deal to Fred.  I mean, we’ve been knowin’ about it all along, just waiting for him to ask.  What’n the Universe are we s’posed to do with all that, that fluff?  I know they’re all serious.”

Though conversational in tone, God’s Voice carried all across the Universe.  That always signals a teaching moment, and God’s teaching moments are times for which the word, “AWESOME” was invented.

“Weed through all the underbrush, assess Fred’s concern and what he’s really asking for, and consider the very real love and concern of Glenn, Dorrell, and Amari.  Add their combined faith, subtract the fluff, and get to answering.”

“But—-”

“Gabriel, the rest of that doesn’t matter.  They quite often use those things either to prove to one another how spiritually mature they are, or they’ve gotten used to a certain rhythm to their public praying, or they’re relying on patterns of talking to Me they learned as kids, and they’ve never stopped to really listen to themselves.  If any of their own kids ever asked things of them like those four are asking of Me, the dads would be as puzzled as you are.  Either way, none of that ultimately matters to Me.  Each man prays according to patterns he was taught and is comfortable with.  Overlook the difference in style and see their agreement before Me.  Therein lies the power.  Remember the rule?”

Gabe nodded.  “If any two or three of you agree—”

God nodded.  “You got it.  Don’t let the fluff distract you.  Deal with the core need.  Now—GO.”

 

Quicker than thought, the huge, stunning presence of mighty Gabriel deployed, instantly responding to not just Fred’s willingness to ask for his friends’ help – but also to their caring willingness to help shoulder their friend’s need.

 

As they were gathering up their wrappers and empty cups, Fred paused.  “Guys?  I can’t explain it, but I just now got a real peace inside that God’s taking care of the whole thing!”  He bumped elbows with his three friends as they headed toward the nearest garbage bin.

Something told him the afternoon’s work was going to go a lot smoother for them all.

© D. Dean Boone, August 2018

 

Categories: Common Sense, Humor - Lighten Up, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

CHANGES TO 2nd CUP: ~ COMING 8/1/18

Hey, friends:  here’s the word from Facebook and WordPress:

 

“Your website’s connection to Facebook is changing soon

Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the Jetpack tool that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).”

So, here’s the deal.  I’m trying to figure out their meandering directions to keep my blog posts coming to my FB page, “2nd Cup of Coffee”.  I’m not talking about my personal FB page, but the one where I’m standing by The Snake, in an old USAF flight suit, in front of the flag, titled 2nd Cup of Coffee.  If you haven’t ‘Liked’ it yet, please do – IF you find value in my 2nd Cup articles.  And if you’re new to 2nd Cup posts, take some time to check out some of the past ones.  You must might find something there to lift, edify, empower and encourage you.  And, nope, you don’t even have to like coffee.

The second thing you can do is recognize my 2nd Cup website, “http://2ndcupofcoffee.com”.  When you go there, you have access to all my archived posts from 2013 until now.  Then too, the more you go to my website, the higher on the food chain it rises, making it even easier to find.

Either way, be patient as I sort out what, exactly, has happened to this thus-far workable partnership between Facebook and WordPress.

I’ll do my best to keep the good stuff coming!  Just remember–if I have to “post” to regular FB, having any pictures is iffy at best.

Thanks, readers, for being so loyal and offering your feedback.

Loving you,

Dan

Categories: Common Sense, Information, Inspirational | Tags: , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 7/23/18: PARENTS’ GROWING PAINS

The two men gratefully sank into the commuter train’s seats after a long day in the city.  Andrews asked the other, “Your son go back to college yet?”

Image result for dutch bros travel mug

“Two days ago.  Yours?”  Jennerson nodded.

“Mm-hmm.  Senior this year, so it’s almost over.  Thank God, in May Shawn’ll be an engineer.  I still wonder how long it’ll be before the pockets of my slacks ever go back to their shape before his hands were in them all the time, too.”   He paused to take a sip out of his Dutch Bros. travel mug he’d picked up from somewhere out West at a conference last year.  “What’s your boy going to be when he gets out of college?”

“Jarvis?  At the rate he’s going, I’d say he’ll be about thirty.”  His companion about spewed coffee into his lap, laughing.  He settled down, then asked,

“No, I mean what’s he taking.”

“Every dollar I make.”  The other guy’s humor snicked shut like an SLR lens.

“Doesn’t he burn the ol’ midnight oil enough?”

“Kidding, right?  He never gets home early though to know what midnight oil is.”  If a voice could be called threadbare, this dad’s sure qualified.  Even his sarcasm seemed as though on a time delay.

“Well, has sending him to college done anything at all for him?”

“Certainly has!  It’s totally cured his mother of bragging about him!”

His friend sat slack-jawed and stared at him for a moment, for he knew moms are the LAST ones to not brag on their perfect little darlings, even if 47 years old.

“So—-”

“I’ve already been having coffee with the local Marine recruiter.  Whether he drops out, gets kicked out, or by some amazing miracle of God manages to graduate, we’re driving straight there immediately thereafter.  I’ve finally admitted to myself that, as nice as it is to still have one of our kids at home, we’ve not done him any favors.”

“Well, he does need to do some growing up!”

“So do we, Charles.  So do we.”

 

© D. Dean Boone, July 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Time Musings, 7/17/18: MANIPULATION IS NOT LEADERSHIP

When small men cast big shadows, it’s a sign the sun is setting.

I remember as a boy going to my aunt’s house in Echo, Oregon to watch The Wizard of Oz.  It was an annual thing, almost like a family reunion, only without the multi-whiskered wart and the “Oooh, coomew an’ give Auntie a boog koos!”  Yeesh.  There must be an aunt’s union or something, because it was always Aunt Margie or Ruby who’d be standing there, duck-lipped and arms reaching.  

Why is it always the, ah, fluffy and less-than-adorable ones who do that?  I’m sure my eyerolls were audible, #gagmewithagardentrowel.  And how can parents be so complicit?  “Oh, stop being silly and go give your aunties a kiss.”  Okay, I will confess there were one or two bipeds of the feminine-girl-type persuasion from whom I’d cheerfully have received such therapy.  None was named Margie or Ruby.  Just no. 

Aunt Juanita Galligan was attractive, slim, and looked great for being approximately 1,730 years old.  I don’t think she ever paid her Auntie’s Union dues, for she never treated me like the other two.  I never saw her unkempt; even when recovering from losing a big toe because of diabetes, Aunt Juanita never went without makeup or her hair fixed up.  Uncle Tad was cool.  He was tall and quiet.  He had a presence about him, and I liked being around him.  He was in the Navy, though, and his career field had him stationed for 1 or 2 years at a time in places like Adak, Alaska.

In his absence, I think she appreciated the company, even if it was from her young nephew.  Any spouse of a service member who makes frequent isolated remote tours can tell you:  it gets old.  Having some company around once in awhile – any company – is welcome.

A few of you know me well enough you might guess which scene from The Wizard of Oz most stuck with me, long after I’d grown up and Aunt Juanita and Uncle Tad were dead.  For those who don’t, I’m going to get a refill of this wonderful medium-dark roast, Cameron’s Velvet Moon (Cue the ‘Final Jeopardy’ music, Alex) while you guess . . .

 

So–if you picked the scene that culminates with, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, you win.  From the first time I saw it at around age 10, the lessons therein resonated in me.

They still do.  And the biggie?

Always suspect the words or actions of those who operate behind a façade of respectability, all the while pushing a private, hidden agenda.

As I grew, it soon became apparent such is found anywhere, including the Church. 

Now in my senior adultism, I find I’ve scant patience with those who believe their own plans are interchangeable with God’s plans.  That kind of activity always involves manipulating others’ lives, usually with a self-promoting end in sight that, if openly revealed, would never be tolerated.

In or out of Christian venues, anything that knowingly abuses and needlessly wounds another person does not, cannot please God.  Hanging with those who either do or support such is not on my bucket list.  That’s a joy-killer, and I aspire to as much authentic joy in my heart as I can muster.

Juanita Galligan was not a believer in any way we might recognize.  But she had a moral, practical code by which she lived, and which permeated her and Uncle Tad’s digs as much as the cigarette odors.  Aunt Juanita didn’t play cute word games.  Even though I was a pre-adolescent boy the first time I went to her house by myself, she spoke kindly but directly to me about cabbages and kings.

To the best of my knowledge, she never misled me by saying one thing on the surface while doing something else entirely different down where submarines operate.

Aunt Juanita was a straight shooter, a tough but real lady, and I looked forward to our going to her house because I always knew where I stood with her.  I knew I could trust her to always say, be, and do the right thing–even if it didn’t entirely please me.

I knew whenever I was at her house, I never had to worry about anybody behind the curtain, pulling levers or pushing buttons, and distracting me from what they were really trying to do.  It might’ve had something to do with both of them being career military people.

You know, I’m even more thankful – no, grateful – now for that lesson from The Wizard of Oz.  I tend to be a bit of a skeptic, perhaps even a cynic, now.  But I’m learning to discern earlier and earlier when there’s a Man Behind The Curtain.  And I’m now less bothered by the necessity to move on when I find there is one.

100% of the ones I’ve discovered think that hiding the truth, and their real agendas, while herding good people with sober, even noble words, constitutes leadership, making them king of the forest.

Nope.  That’s not leadership; that’s manipulation   True leadership calls for a servant’s heart – and for the courage to do and be the right thing whether popular or not.  It takes no courage to sneak quietly around behind the curtain, making people think you’re doing one thing when all the time you’re actually doing something quite different.

It’s what puts the ‘ape’ in apricot, right?

And courage is what it takes to man up, recognize when wrong has been done – or a little right’s been done in a terribly wrong way – and do one’s best to clean up the mess.  It may be moot at that point, because when egos, personal aggrandizement and self-absorption are the catalyst for having The Curtain up in the first place, massive damage is usually done, and done in a hurry.

And those having been The Man Behind The Curtain rarely wish to stick around long enough to face the music and make things right.  They usually abruptly disappear, or, worse yet, stay put and try to bluster and make excuses for the havoc they’ve wreaked.

That means it is likely time to move on.

Now, where, exactly, is the Yellow Brick Road?

© D. Dean Boone, July 2018

 

 

 

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2nd Cup for 7/9/18: WE CALLED HER ‘JO’

Her given name was Joella Jane Boone.

She was a Boone in many telltale ways:  a lifelong learner holding two Master’s degrees in education yet whose greatest joy was teaching in the school classroom, and who loved to write on white- or blackboard in a lovely, effortless cursive; artistic to the point she could do nothing plainly; articulate and precise in her speech and grammar; and had a velvety, almost sultry alto voice she used in sacred solo, small ensemble and choral work her entire life.  There was nothing mannish in her.

It was no surprise she’d catch the eye of, and later marry, William Tromble, Ph.D., himself a musician, educator, and in later years active in university institutional advancement.

Jo was a Boone in the other necessary ways, too.  She knew how to kill and dress chickens and small game animals, how to grow and tend both flower and vegetable gardens, and how to milk and clean up after cows.  Jo was at home on forest trails, and our dad often found her tracking a deer or hunting blackberries by herself.  She built good fires, knew how to prepare meals over them, and how to properly extinguish them.  She knew how to tell relative time by the sun’s position, could wield an axe as well as most men, and was an accurate shot.

Jo and her two closest siblings were about twenty years older than I.  That means by the time I was born, they’d already been married and gone, and I was a preemie uncle by 3 months.  When I was born, my mom was 42 and was finished raising her family.  To add insult to exhaustion, I made my debut on Mother’s birthday.

Since both her siblings already had families, it was Jo who came to be with our mother prior to, during, and after my birth.  She spent so much time holding, cuddling, and feeding me, she said, that I’d cry whenever Mother took me from her.

Vintage Jo-isms:

  • “You were such a cute little guy with your coonskin cap.”  I was told by all I literally entered the world with a full head of hair.  You’ll understand if I don’t remember. 
  • “I wanted to take you home with me.  I mothered you more than Mom did.”  She told me this several times in later years, always with tears in her eyes and voice.  She was serious.
  • “I gave you your middle name.”  It seems there was a close family friend in those years named Dean.  Mom couldn’t decide on a middle name, so Jo said, ‘Why don’t we call him Daniel Dean?’  Dandy.  Alliteration from birth.

From my earliest memory, Jo always sent me cards, and always embellished inside with ink artistry of some kind.  Shading.  Perspective.  Something.  And always with a handwritten note folded and tucked inside in her stunning cursive.

After my freshman year of college I could find no suitable work in North Idaho and was exhausted by driving 60 miles daily into (and back from) Spokane, Washington to work and to computer programming school.  I held on for two reasons:  I hate not finishing something I’ve started, and Jo kept writing and encouraging me to keep going.

 

When the school folded, there was no incentive to keep making that drive.  That was when Jo suggested I come back to where they were in Kankakee, IL, and try there.  She said I could stay with them while hunting work.  At her suggestion, I auditioned for and locked in a spot and associated scholarships on the university’s main quartet – IF I could come up with the money for the sophomore year.  Once again, I did odd jobs, even painting Olivet Nazarene dorm rooms.  Alas, in ’71 and ’72, there were no good jobs available for those my age.

I’d had enough.  In June, I went down to the Air Force recruiter, chose a career, and enlisted under the delayed enlistment program.  Jo took me in until I shipped out in September of ’72.  All during my USAF years, and since that time, she never forgot to send her signature cards.  There was no doubt who’d sent them, for no one else I know had either patience or ability to make them pop like Jo.

It was from Jo that I picked up the habit of cleaning as I go.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Mowing.  Weeding.  Writing.  That makes me a little slower, yes.  But there’s rarely any mess or empty stuff laying around for others to have to pick up after me.

My sister Jo was always very verbal, often wearily so.  She could wear a political strategist down with her word-gusts.  Yet buried within the lush bouquets of her verbiage, there were always-always-always words of personal encouragement, of assurance to me of her faith in God, and her support that I keep mine strong as well.

My big sister, Joella Jane Boone Tromble, is gone.  We received word Saturday of her passing.

They say grief is just love with no place to go.  They’re right.

After years of dealing with other patients, and other families’ grieving, I’m numb right now.  I didn’t expect to feel this way, for I never lived close enough to Jo and Bill to spend any time with them until those few months prior to serving in the Air Force.  I didn’t expect this deep, resonant, echoing emptiness.

It hurt when I lost my mother.

It’s hurting now that I’ve lost my other one.

I loved you, big sister.

Thank you.

© D. Dean Boone, July 2018.

 

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

QTMs for 7/2/18: INTENTIONALLY LOUD, RUDE, OVERBEARING, and PROFANE

There are many things that, as a senior adult, I’m willing to overlook, mostly for my own inner peace.

Earlier this morning I was one of two diners in one of my favorite breakfast spots.  I’m sure that, somewhere, there are restaurants open that early with more luxurious surroundings.  I don’t think you’d find one with more friendly appeal and better food.  They know me there:  “Let him sit wherever he wants.  He won’t need a menu.  Oh–and keep his coffee cup full.”

I’d ordered and was sitting quietly, reading after Elizabeth George’s great book about the art of writing, WRITE AWAY.  What could be better than a well-constructed, inviting book and fresh, hot joe?  I had my notepad lying close.  Ideas are constantly bubbling up, and I hate to miss them.  I know better than to talk myself into, “Oh, I’ll remember that.”  I am ruthless with myself, for in most cases, I do not.

For a writer, the morning solitude, a solid book, coffee and comparative silence are a winning blend.  Most of the time I’m the one doing the writing, so it’s a special treat to sit and muse over the thoughts of another good writer.  I’d just reached for my fluorescent yellow highlighter to mark a thoughtful phrase when they came in.  Except for the two booths I and my fellow diners occupied – one on my end, theirs on the opposite – the newcomers had their choice of anywhere else to sit.

‘They’, defined, were a threesome:  a morbidly-obese man of indeterminate age whose mouth preceded him in the door, and two substantially younger, plump women.  The only time he refrained from reemphasizing his twenty-nine-word command of jargon-laced and slurred Slanglish was when his food was placed before him.  You’ll have to guess which twenty-nine words, for almost all were racially-popular and profane.

His voice had all the charm of a car crusher ingesting an Audi.  It was irritating.  He knew that.  And because of a girth the approximate size of Vermont, it had that abrasive foghorn quality that made any other conversation within the same zip code impossible.  He knew that.

From the time the three walked in, he never shut up.  That in itself was bad enough.  But his language was coarse, vile, and disrespectful to any self-respecting woman.  Someone he said was his daughter called him three times, and each time he made sure to put his phone on speaker so he could continue Hoovering whatever he’d ordered, as well as what remained on the women’s plates.  That’s what I surmise, anyhow.

They sat behind me.  From the Doppler effect of the women’s not-totally-convincing laughter, I could tell they were looking around to see if I was sufficiently bothered.

Who would not be?

I quietly reread the same paragraph seven times while I finished my meal.  I’d already paid, so when done I had a few extra sips of coffee, reveling in the fact that I was now irritating him.  He’d hoped his story about where he sat being where his momma, God-rest-her, always sat would cover for him choosing to interrupt my solitude and ruin my concentration by sitting right behind me.  From everyone’s faces, I doubt any of us believed him.

Far from chasing me off, he made the worst possible error:  he got me praying about and for him.  That wasn’t in his plan.

While enjoying my coffee, I prayed God would shut his mouth and make his throat sore every time he thought about using the foul language he’d repeatedly demonstrated.  And I prayed God would open the eyes of those two women to realize what the price of breakfast was costing them in terms of their self-respect – if any remained.

When I got up to leave, his voice had developed a rasp.  I never bothered turning to get a good look at any of them.  I’ll know him by his mouth and the sound of his voice if he ever comes in again when I’m eating.  And in case you’re curious, I knew saying anything to him would have only caused what he was hoping for.  Should he attempt it again, I’ll gather my things and move or leave.  And because I know the owner, I’ll personally tell him why I’ll never again return – and why I’ll tell any who ask why I never go there any more.

Joe won’t like that.  His employees won’t like it, either.

Herein are many lessons, only one of which I choose to mention.  If you keep getting in other people’s spaces and faces, sooner or later all around you will tire of your mouth and methods:  the only loser will be you and those who follow you.

Yes.  That truth applies in several ways.

The best for me is you need not make a scene to make a difference.  Do your communicating where and with whom it will matter.  Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves . . .

 

D. Dean Boone, July 2018

 

 

Categories: Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

6/25/18 – Granger: WHAT DOES AN INTROVERSION LAYER DO?

It was one of those mornings you wish you could seal in an old Ball/Mason jar and keep.

A rollicking, early-summer thunderstorm had stomped its way through at 1:30 AM with all the finesse of an attention-starved 3-year-old.  I’d ground and perked a pot of Air Capital medium roast.  As I sat sipping the fragrant java, my thoughts interwove with its steam.

Each morning’s quiet time is special.  I guard it, cherishing it at the same time.  A notepad and pen are necessities for me, anyway, but never more than during my quiet time musings.  God always has interesting stuff to pass along.

Pouring my second cup, I sat tapping my PaperMate InkJoy gel pen on the pad, idly looking out the window at the sunlight glistening off each leftover water droplet.  What a thing of beauty!  And God nonchalantly pulls that off every time it rains.

My eyes still stuck somewhere in Middle Distance out the window, I didn’t hear it until my phone twittered again.  Or maybe it deedled.  Any more, I’m unsure what, exactly, my Galaxy S6 does.  Zedge has so many settings I can’t keep up with them.  Some I hear constantly; others I rarely hear at all anymore.  Anyway, whatever it did, it just did it again.  I’m almost sure it sounded just a L-I-T-tle perturbed I hadn’t yet recognized its prominent place of importance.

“Granger.”

“What’s your Pandora playing right now?”  Arlough.  His greetings are always unique and mostly refreshing.

“Dinner Jazz.  Deep In A Dream by Sonny Clark.”

“Seriously?  I thought your morning preference leaned more toward Relaxation Radio or Calm Meditation . . .”

“Normally, yes.  My ancient tablet sometimes drops stations or just quits playing.  Usually if I dial up another station, it wakes back up.”  It was quiet for a few seconds while my friend’s synapses whirled and sparked.

“So–what’re you doing?”  I noticed again the slight discoloration on the sleeve of my mottled-grey Adidas running suit.  Probably coffee, knowing me.  Maybe this time I’d remember to toss it in the laundry.

“Arlough, you called me.”  He sounds slightly addled, but he’s not.  You’ve seen a bee moving from clover blossom to blossom, here and then there–right?  Consider what that would look like at Mach 1.  I’ve never known a human’s brain can have such a variety of thoughts in such a miniscule amount of time.

“Um, right-right.  Hey, you’re an Introvert, correct?”  I waited, knowing he knew that.  “Whaddya do with them?  How–is there a right and wrong way to relate and stuff?”

I smiled.  Laying on my desk was something I’d just picked up online and thought worthy of copying to work over for an article.  “Short answer?  Yes.  Hang tight while I get a refill, then I’ll see if I can clear away some of the fog.”  I smiled again because I could hear him in the background, fiddling with something electronic while he waited.  Arlough never sat on hold.  He put his phone on speaker and kept his agile mind doing laps.  Or warmups.  Whatever his mind did.

“All right; I’m back with you.  Now, mind you, this is neither exhaustive nor clinical.  It’s common sense, borne of life experience.

Arlough:  ” ‘kay.”

“First a general rule:  never mistake being an introvert with being insipid or intimidated.  Many a person has done so to their own detriment.  Here we go . . .

“Number 1, always respect an Introvert’s privacy.  Introverts love solitude and comparative quiet; writers are usually introverts.  Solitude is their gas station, their tanker.  Trying to keep an introvert too busy for too long will make him or her noticeably irritable and restless, and they’ll begin to resent you and your company.  Soon they’ll decline going with you.”  I paused for a few seconds.  Since Arlough likes dead air less than a radio station manager, I knew I’d stumbled across something important to him.  I waited.

His stuttering was uncharacteristic.  “I, um– yeah.  I guess I get that.”  It was my turn to pause.  I listened to the gold wall clock going “p’tock” about seven times.  “Arlough, that’s it, isn’t it?  You’ve found somebody special, and she’s an introvert.  Right?”

Again, the slight hesitation.  “Yeah.  I figured with you being one and all, maybe you could keep me from massively screwing this up before it even starts.”

“Got it.  Okay.  I’ll fashion my remarks with a special relationship in mind.  Ready for the next one?”  I know he nodded, because I’ve watched him talk on the phone.

“Number 2, never embarrass them in public.  Oddly, some think it helps break the ice to do that.  Get them laughing, and it’s all good.  However, many introverts are also perfectionists who find public embarrassment as much fun as ramming a sliver under a fingernail.  What may seem to you like an innocent, silly wisecrack intended to make everyone laugh may unwittingly lacerate an introvert’s heart.  If they don’t know you well enough to recognize sarcasm, I can just about guarantee they’ll take your words seriously.  You can wound an Introvert that way; it may be innocent from your perspective, but the wound will cut just as deep.”

“Number three, always let an introvert first observe a new situation or new surroundings.  Don’t expect them to be comfortable by instantly charging right into a new group or situation.  They may be capable of doing so because of professional training, but that’s not their default setting.  When you see an introvert hanging back, they’re not being obtuse or uncooperative.  They’re inputting a whole lot at once, noticing things others rarely do.  Never equate an introvert’s silence for ignorance; they always notice far more than they say.”

It was quiet enough I could hear Arlough’s keyboard.  He was serious.

“Four:  Give an introvert time to think.  Once again, when introverts hesitate before responding, it’s not because they’re too simple to form words.  Introverts don’t lose debates; they may run out of time while thinking through their position, but it’s unwise to engage one in a serious conversation without being confronted with a compelling argument and some insights you didn’t know they’d noticed.  Introverts are habitual overthinkers.  They’ve already run through a mental checklist of 5 or 6 possible responses, assessing each one’s effectiveness.  They’re probably still doing that when you’ve impatiently broken number 5, which is a biggie for any introvert . . .”

 

    “Do not interrupt them.  Reasons are that they are deeply introspective, thoughtful people.  Often they’re composing what they want to say, while at the same time editing as they go.  To barrel into their unfinished thoughts has the same effect as a drunk driver plowing into the middle of a crowded outdoor restaurant.  Not only will you not get the full effect of the process in #4 above; but you’ll give them the idea what they have to say is unimportant, and that the only purpose for your conversation is for them to hear what you’ve already decided.  Soon, you’ll begin noticing they hesitate to answer at all.  That’s not because they have no valid opinion or preference.  It’s because they feel their opinion or preference has already been devalued, so why expend the effort to explain it?”

I paused.  My big, black-and-green “COFFEE made me do it!” mug reminded me of my distaste for lukewarm joe.  I curled my forefinger through the man-sized handle and swigged down a healthy, ah, swig.  Yep.  Lukewarm.  Its only saving grace was that it was fresh-ground Velvet Moon by Cameron’s.  While thus occupied, I was listening to Arlough muttering to himself as he made notes.  I heard him saying something . . .

“You ready?”  He allowed as how he was, softly saying, “I, um, think I’ve already stomped on the pressure plates of numbers 4 and 5.”  I smiled.  “Arlough, I think every other personality type has done the same.  They all tend to think it’s an arrogant trait as in, “How dare you interrupt me?”  They don’t stop to think it’s part and parcel of an introvert’s personality.

“Here’s numbers 6 and 7, because they’re related.  6 is to give an introvert advance notice of expected changes in their life; and 7 is to give them 15-minute warnings to let them finish whatever they’re doing or working on.  Personally, I don’t think these two should be limited only to introverts, but they are crucial to that personality’s well-being.  Because an introvert is usually thinking out ahead of whatever project has them occupied, to break into that unexpectedly will be like tossing a wet stray cat into their lap.  Many a boss has failed miserably to get the best work from introverted employees because they never bothered understanding this personality trait.  You can only imagine what ignoring this would do to any close relationship.

“Number 8:  reprimand them in private.  Refer to numbers 1 through 3 above.  Dressing down an introvert in front of coworkers, classmates, or anyone else may be your idea of management style or leadership; but it’s also a way to ensure you’ll never get the chance to do it again.  Introverts rarely make a big, public scene, although they’re quite capable of it.  Most of the time, they’ll quietly fade away and you’ll never see them again in that setting.  I’m guessing, Arlough, you get how important this one is in any personal relationship.  Introverts love to be informed.  They want to please–and because of that, they’re incredibly sensitive to the possibility of offending or hurting those with whom they’re close.  Introverts have finely-tuned senses.  Again, though they may say little, they also forget little.

I could hear the tapping on his laptop again.  Must’ve hit a nerve on that one, too.  I waited until the clicking slowed down.

“Here’s number 9.  Teach an introvert new skills in private.  Remember that I mentioned in number 2 introverts are mostly also perfectionists?  Perfectionists despise practicing.  That’s not because they don’t want to excel and be at their best:  they absolutely want both of those.  They hate to practice because it means making mistakes where others can see or hear them.  Ever overheard somebody asking an introvert something like, “Well, when are you going to have _______ finished?”  If you’ve observed the introvert, you’ve seen the characteristic hesitation before answering.  When you want something perfect – or as much so as is reasonably possible – how do you respond to someone who either has no understanding of an introvert’s mind, or doesn’t want to?  I can tell you this, Arlough:  the mild response that finally made its way out is rarely the steely, penetrating first or second choice.  And, yes, I’m speaking from personal experience.  I’m finding the older I get, the less patience I have with those who ask such questions.  Beware of the introvert whose internal filter has slipped!”

Though I wasn’t being intentionally humorous, I could hear my friend sniggering in the background.  He straightened up, then said, “Got it.  And number—which one are we on?  Ten?”

“That’s a rog.  And that is, enable the Introvert to find one best friend who has similar interests and abilities.  For a let’s-party type of personality, this is no big deal.  To an introvert, it can literally save their sanity.  The necessity of this can’t be overstated.  Introverts don’t easily open up to anyone, for as the saying goes, it is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.  In one story, a young boy remarked, “There’s too much risk in loving.”  “No,” said the old man.  “There’s too much risk in not.”  Introverts’ emotional channels run very deep, so a young introvert would agree with the boy:  It’s not worth it.  It takes too long to let down the barriers, to let another person close enough to seriously hurt you.  An older introvert, though, understands the sere hollowness of living one’s entire life without any truly close friends.  Once more:  introverts have an uncanny sensory panel.  The closer they get to you, the more attuned they are to the slightest nuance of change in your interaction.  It can be unsettling to someone who’s never been close to one, yet it’s not ever a personal thing; it’s a personality thing.

“Got time for two more?”  Arlough almost sounded eager.  When an engineer sounds thus, it may not be a good thing.  “Just two more, I promise. . .”

“Number 11 – do NOT push an introvert to make a lot of friends.  The introverted personality never has and never will easily make friendships.  Don’t expect it.  What you can expect is for those few real friendships they do accept are ironclad.  Once you’re an introvert’s friend, you’ll need to make it painfully clear when you decide you no longer want that relationship.  Here’s the caveat:  it takes a LOT to convince an introvert you really don’t want them or their friendship; but once you finally do, you’ll never know them like that again, for they’ll never let you back in.  This has nothing to do with their spiritual state, either.  They can be the most sincere of Christians, but once you’ve pushed them away and convinced them you mean it, they’ll still love you–but they’ll not allow you to ever again get close.”

“A-a-and finally, number 12:  Respect their introversion.  Don’t try to convert them into an extrovert.  Honor them for the personality God created them with.  Celebrate their individuality.  Make the effort to get to know them at their levels of thought, reasoning and conversation.  Introverts are by design very private, very deep and complex creatures.  Trying to somehow alter them into something easier and more malleable will only result in frustrating you.

I paused, slurping some now-definitely-cold coffee.  Again, I waited while my good friend processed what I’d just shared with him.  Because Arlough was rarely at a loss for words, I never mistook his silence for anything other than what it was:  collecting data just as sure as any computer.  I’d no doubt he could do a credible job of repeating back everything I’d just read to him.  What a mind!  What a—

“Dominoes tomorrow night?  My place.  Six-ish.  Bring that queso gunk you guys make.”

Saying g’night would’ve been superfluous; he’d already clicked off.  Engineers.

Something told me his new relationship was in for some interesting times.

I leaned back in my old, restuffed office chair, contentedly listening to an old Duke Ellington/John Coltrane arrangement of My Little Brown Book, and appreciatively sipping at my newly-refilled mug of hot java.

I sat reflecting on some relationship quotations I’d collected that seem to speak to the introverted character, reminding me:  it’s not easy for an introvert to fall deeply in love; and it’s much harder for one to let go of it.

The reason we struggle so with insecurities is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels. –

“One of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do, my dear, is to grieve the loss of someone who is still alive.”  – my father’s advice

“Long after I have given up, my heart still searches for you without my permission.” – Rudy Francisco

“Sometimes we aren’t meant to get over someone, and we go on living a little emptier.” – Leo Christopher

“It is a frightening thought that in one fraction of a moment, you can fall in the kind of love that takes a lifetime to get over.”

“It’s so much easier to act like none of this matters and to pretend to wear a smile, than to confess that my heart is nearly broken from losing someone who was never even mine.”

“Why are you sad?”  “Because you speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings.” – Tolstoy

© D. Dean Boone, June 2018

 

Categories: Common Sense, Humor - Lighten Up, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup for 6/18/18 – “ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT” For The GENTLY USED

It had been a relaxing summer break, but the choir was ready for our annual “Let’s Make Music Together” catered taco feed and karaoke night.  These events were always a hoot, because they signaled the beginning of the church’s Fall work toward the holiday seasons of year’s-end and the following Spring.

 

 

Everybody was excited to come back together, for we were a large choir and derived real blessing from singing together.  We usually brought new people with us, for that evening let anyone looking on see that we weren’t stiff and solemn.  A few would sing the same things over and over.  Most did not.

I always worked up a love song.  One year was “Love Me Tender”.  Another was “Unchained Melody”.  Then I surprised one member by singing, “Only You” to her on her birthday.  Our quartet met and began singing at that church, so we usually wound up doing a recurrent request:  “Elvira”.

One year I’d been trying to locate a track for the Bee Gees’ “Words”.  No joy.  So, I thought, “Okay, self.  You found those lyrics to an Elvis love song, and you’ve never done anything funny, so—

Here, then, is . . .

 

“ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT” For The GENTLY USED

(You know the tune . . .)

 

Are you lonesome tonight? Does your tummy feel tight?

Did you remember your Maalox and Tums?

Do your memories stray to that bright, sunny day—

When you still had your teeth and your gums?

 

Is your hairline receding, are your eyes growing dim?

Hysterectomy for her, and a prostate job for him.

Does your back give you pain?

Can your knees predict rain?

Tell me, dear, are you lonesome tonight?

 

—{ * }—

 

“Is your blood pressure up?  Can you pee in this cup?

Are you eating your low-fat cuisine?”

All that oat bran and fruit, and Metamucil to boot

Keeps you just like a well-oiled machine.

 

If it’s football or baseball, he sure knows the score

He knows right where it’s at—but forgets what it’s for

So your gall bladder’s gone, and his gout lingers on—

So tell me, dear, are you lonely tonight?

 

—{ * }—

 

When you’re hungry, he’s not; when you’re cold, then he’s hot—

So you start that old thermostat war.

When you turn out the light he goes left, you go right.

Then you join in a great symphonic snore.

 

He was once so romantic, and really no slouch,

So how’d he wind up such a cranky old grouch?

So, don’t take any bets, this is as good as it gets!

Tell me, dear, are you lonesome tonight?

( Unknown )

 

If we can’t have fun in this life, there’s something definitely haywire with it.

Glad you enjoyed it.

© D. Dean Boone, June 2018

Categories: Humor - Lighten Up, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 6/17/18: AND ALL THIS TIME I THOUGHT IT WAS HIM WHO DIDN’T GET IT

Of course I thought I knew more than my dad when I was growing up.  What kid doesn’t?

You can spare me the wide-eyed, head-shaking denials.  Neither you nor I are children any longer.

Can we save some time and agree to stipulate that you and I were far more brilliant as kids than our parents were as adults?

I knew my father had to quit school at age 13 when his dad died of the pulmonary disease plaguing so many Northern Indiana steel mill workers.  I knew he then had to go to work himself.  Even though he never went back to school, my dad never stopped learning.  I should have picked up on that quicker.

There was one thing Dad did I felt was smart:  he saved his change.  He hung onto everything from pennies to fifty-cent pieces.  He even (get this) . . . he even went so far as to buy clear plastic little tubes with lids to keep it all in.  Amazing he’d do that out of convenience for me.  After all, I knew where they were because he’d show me how he’d check each one’s mint stamp, date and features.  The ones he meant to save, he’d put in little blue cardboard books with little cutouts where each coin would go.  I thought that was cool, because the rest went into the little clear plastic tubes.

As a kid, I knew what to do with those pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and half-dollars.

I spent ’em.

Candy.  Gum.  Pop.

Part of me knew there were better reasons for my dad to save those ‘extra’ coins than just for my belly.  But I also knew they were legal tender and spent just as easily as any others.  I knew a dime was worth ten cents, after all.  I mean, how much brain power did that take?

More than I had.

Dad was saving them up because he’d researched and found which ones were appreciating in value.  Each one by itself might not have been any big deal.  But having entire collections in those blue booklets?  And having five, ten, and twenty dollars’ worth in those little plastic tubes?  The silver content alone in many of them was worth far more than the ten or twenty-five cents’ value I got when I dropped them in the hands of a very accommodating store guy.

See, he knew what he was getting.  I never had a clue.

The dad I dismissed as simple and uneducated, showing him less respect than neighbor men I barely knew, never let on he knew I’d been systematically spending his coin collection.  He just quietly went on working hard, buying me things I HAD to have for this or that, faithfully providing for Mom and I.  He let me go on that way until I grew enough to realize, no matter how much or little those coins were worth, they weren’t mine to spend.

Of course they weren’t.

They were part of my inheritance.

I never faced up to that with my dad; I was too ashamed at the time.  And later, when I began to take notice of how valuable some coins could be, I’d gotten busy with my own life and family.  There’d be time enough to make things right.

Only there wasn’t.  As I grew older, so did he.  With each passing year, I began to notice all the quiet strength, the powerful character, the uncompromising friendships that were so much a part of Dad.

I began sending him handmade, handwritten cards that took time and effort to make and mail.

“You did that as an adult?”

Yep.  I wrote to him all the things I should’ve been saying to him.  I honored him.  I gave Dad the most priceless thing any son or daughter can offer their father:  r-e-s-p-e-c-tI know now I should have begun that quest much sooner, but I was too busy running my mouth.  In my imagined superiority, I didn’t realize until much later that I rarely knew the immense pressures under which my father bore up almost daily. 

At his passing, I kept reading tributes from those who’d known him, tributes that made me wonder if I’d ever really known my father at all.  I’ll not bore you with particulars.  I’ll just say the amazing, imposing man who slowly emerged from within the slight, five-foot-ten, one-hundred-eighty pound chrysalis I so took for granted was nothing like the dad I thought I had all figured out.

Dad was a math whiz, an avid reader, was a dead shot with a rifle and a National Guard BAR rifleman, understood philosophy, loved God with all his heart, and could outwork any two grown men matched against him.  And – AND he was bright enough to let me figure out on my own just how foolish I’d been to spend dimes and quarters on candy, in the process making a store manager comfortably able to retire much sooner than he anticipated.

That manager had to know after the first few coins went dingle-dingle-jingle on his counter, five and ten at a time, he was getting somebody’s collection.

He was.  It was ultimately mine.

So.  You tell me.  Which of us was simple – me or my father?

Hunh.  And all this time I thought it was HIM who didn’t get it.

© D. Dean Boone, Father’s Day 2018

 

 

Categories: Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments